One sweet moment

The One

Directed by James Wong

(Jet Li, Carla Gugino, Delroy Lindo, Jason Statham)



I just saw The One, and finished the evening with a trip to Chi Chi’s for their delicious fried ice cream. I prefer to only remember the latter: A monstrous scoop of vanilla ice cream, smothered in honey, topped with whipped cream and a cherry on a fried flour tortilla.

At one time, I was excited at the prospect of this film – simply advertised as a fun action romp with amazing special effects. In reality, it is nothing but six fight sequences loosely connected by a supernatural plot meant to suck in those Matrix lovers too stupid to notice its lack of scope.

Overcoming my urge to return to Chi Chi’s, I attempt to recall the ludicrous plot preceding these fights. Oh yes, there exists a “multiverse,” a continuum with multiple universes. Within each universe, as the narrator instructs during the opening credits, there is a replica of the one we know. There is a copy of each of us.

The One focuses on a bad Jet Li, traveling from one universe to another, killing his copies, while being chased by “multiverse” police. Finally, Li comes to the last replica of himself. Gaining power with each successful killing, he believes that the death of this last copy will give him ultimate power.

The story of The One answers the age-old theory about a hundred monkeys at a hundred typewriters for a hundred years, but instead of churning out Shakespeare, it turns out the monkeys merely flung feces on the pages.

Admittedly, it is not the plot that is being sold here, but the promise of fantastic visuals, such as Li killing a policeman while wielding a motorcycle, or a Matrix-ish jump from one rooftop to another.

Unfortunately, the mimicry of the Wachowski Brothers’ 1999 sci-fi success evokes a completely unexpected response. Rather than awe, as in The Matrix, the intrusion of supernatural powers seems random and arbitrary. Both Li’s hone their martial arts skills, begin a realistically intense battle and then suddenly start flying and dodging bullets.

At a point, The One becomes reminiscent of a slasher film, where an unstoppable bad Li appears, and the fate of every other character is already sealed. Short of the final battle, where the outcome is truly in doubt, the film fails to even excite – the only sales pitch it originally dared to make.

If you must see this, plan a trip to Chi Chi’s after. At least you’ll have something to look forward to.

-Steven Snyder


The One opens today in
theaters nationwide.